Enlightening Professions?
A vision for the future


A vision for audit and a better society

This report is a partnership between the RSA and AuditFutures. It draws on a literature review, a call out for evidence through the RSA Fellowship, semi-structured interviews and a variety of contributions from people inside and outside of the audit profession who became aware of the project. We invited people to look to the future and take a view of what value audit could bring to society in the 21st century, either as a practice, or a profession. We found the audit profession in a reflective mood. Of the more than 200 people we interviewed or who fed into the project, the majority were auditors, and most were keenly aware that their profession faces searching questions. Thrown into the spotlight by the 2008 financial crisis, it is grappling with the consequences of long-term changes in business, technology and society.

The struggle is unusually public, but the issues it faces are shared by many other traditional professions, whose value is challenged by our inexorable move into a demanding, global data-rich and trust-poor world.

We believe that the decisions made by the audit profession in the coming years could prove influential in shaping the future value of professionalism. We hope that this report will serve to encourage greater collaboration and debate across all the professions.

Detailed discussions about regulations, standards and processes are important and arguably plentiful, but they tend to focus on specific failures and they can be sourced extensively elsewhere. However necessary they may be, their focus on incidents, events and specific failures tends to confirm audit within its ex post factor comfort zone. This report offers a place for the profession and its peers to look forward, to assess the bigger picture and express their highest aspirations.

The spirit of this report is different. It encourages the profession to go beyond Groundhog Day and seize the initiative as the best way of repair- ing trust, sparking innovation and increasing the economic, social and environmental value it generates. We suggest that it aims high, not just by finding more efficient ways of doing what it does today, but by playing an active role in influencing the development of a society – and within that, an economy – that is better informed by the standards, skills and insights of audit.


Highlights from the launch event and workshop discussions

Highlights and summary of our ground-breaking report with the Royal Society of Arts.


Panorama 03.14

Enlightening Professions?

Highlights and summary of our ground-breaking report with the Royal Society of Arts.

Enlightening Professions?

Enlightening Professions? A vision for audit and a better society

Download the PDF of the full report here.